The Power of Changing Everyday Habits

Habits are things that we do in everyday life. They are things we do without noticing because they are so ingrained in us. I started reading a good book that talks about how mastering habits can lead to success in your life and also in the business world. The book goes in depth about how good habits, or bad habits corrected can lead to success in business, sports, and more importantly in your life everyday.

There are three things that you need to be aware of if you want to change or recognize a habit you have. The three things are recognizing the cue, a routine formed from the cue, and the reward we give ourselves for performing the habit. The cue is when you feel something, for example when you feel hungry. The next part is when you are hungry what are the habits that have been developed because of the hunger you feel. I lot of people feel hungry after they eat dinner so they have a routine to look into the pantry or some people even have habits where they eat a certain type of food to get them through the evening or the day. The reward is either satisfying your hunger or the satisfaction of how delicious the food is. So to look and analyze a habit in your life you have to know what the cues are in your life, the routines from the cue, and what the reward is.

I love the stories that illustrate the point from the book. My favorite story from the book is about Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy used to coach my favorite football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His story begins in the book when the Bucs were playing the defending AFC champion San Diego Chargers in 1996. The Bucs were only down one point and had a horrible record up until that point. Tony Dungy saw something though, they were buying into his system. His system, basically was he wanted his players to have a routine before a snap took place and the routine becomes habitual before the snap takes place. For example, he wanted Derrick Brooks to not try and look at a hundred different things at once, but to systematically look at one spot and then go right to the next thing. In the game his defensive players had bought into the habits being instilled in them by Dungy. The Chargers were driving and one of the safety’s went through his routine, the disciplined routine that they had been practicing all season long and he intercepted the ball. The Bucs ended up scoring and won the game because of buying into Dungy’s system of changing habits.

The cue in the Dungy example was playing defense for the Bucs players, and they all had different routines for how to read what the offense was doing. Dungy tried to instill habits to make the defense quicker and make it easier for them because the game was so fast. The reward was also key, which was the team eventually winning. It is also went onto explain that when players got nervous, or things got intense they went back to their old habits. The old habits were still there so engraining the players to new habits was a hard thing, but the brain could be trained to form new habits.

I am still not finished with the book but I have already started to use the principles the book is teaching. Eating healthy is hard for most people, especially for me. So whenever I get hungry to eat a snack at night I have to change my habits, because my old habit was to open the fridge or the pantry. So the cue was getting hungry at night and the routine was going to the fridge. The reward was how delicious the food was for me. So I thought if I change the reward I could correct this bad habit. Whenever I get hungry at night the routine I formed is to think of what the reward is to prevent myself from eating food in the pantry. The reward is eating out at restaurant after a significant amount of time. So far it has actually worked for eating healthier and preventing the bad habit. I always have the reward in mind because it is easy to tell myself that the reward of the restaurant is a far better reward then eating food from the fridge.

The book drives home the point that if you use this process and do not have a reward that works for you specifically, then it will more likely than not fail.

So in short, I would recommend the book. It is called “The Power of Habit,” and it is by Charles Duhigg. If you want to better understand how our brains work or want to correct some of your bad habits this is a great book to help get you started. It has helped me.